I must confess that I was a little more than angry yesterday. I couldn’t think of the occurrences of the day and our growth or setbacks. Our struggle to free ourselves from the circumstances thrust upon us wasn’t the focus of my energy.
I felt misunderstood.
I come here to express myself. I come here to lance my wounds and cry publicly. I want to chart my days as I surge ahead and then fall down and struggle to get back up and try again. I have seen this blog as an opportunity to journal for the first time since I married R over 17 years ago. I just share my journal with strangers and friends now. You see, he forbade the kids and me to keep journals. During one year when we were totally isolated from any outside contact at all I wrote my thoughts in a hidden book. It was necessary to maintain my sanity in this prison he created for us. He found my diary though and forced me to burn it.
I feel a little like I did that afternoon when he stormed at me with my book in his hand. I had been discovered, and my thoughts were not correct nor appropriate.
Au contraire, my thoughts are my thoughts and, therefore, are appropriate for me. They are correct for me, from my perspective, because of my personal experiences.
I feel like I need to defend myself a bit.
I don’t think I’m seeing the dark side of things. I don’t think I’m looking for ugliness where none exists. I think I’ve done a damn good job of making lemonade with lemons. I think my children are amazing human beings for suffering through what they have been subjected to and still thriving in any area at all, especially since they are forced to sit with their abuser for two weekends a month with no hint of protection or justice.
Our poverty is not the bane of our existence. It makes all of life difficult, but it is not what stops us from moving forward. In the depths of horrific poverty I home-schooled my children WITHOUT textbooks (without heat, without food, without clothes, without medical care……all the while R never went without chew, beer, and gym memberships!), and my son was able to secure a hefty scholarship to a prestigious private university. He is now in his Master’s program back east. My daughter is also in her Master’s program. No help. No money. Just my determination to see my children rise above poverty and abuse. I got my kids into college, not because I believed in my own abilities to teach them, but because I believed they were worthy of more. They, however, did not feel like they belonged there.
Extreme poverty does make you feel like you are less than. No one else needs to say it to you. You see it in the uncomfortable way they look at you or shy away from you in public. You just sense it. However, the greatest factor to my children’s and my sense of unworthiness comes from being told we were and are unworthy. It comes from the abuse that boldly declared we were unworthy.
A young girl I know of just very recently expressed that she feels like dirt, trash, unworthy, because she was raped by a family member and a family friend. Someone else’s sin makes her feel trashy! Her rapists should feel trashy! But, they don’t. They’ve moved on, hiding in the church, to rape again.
I cling to scripture and my faith in Jesus Christ. I pray over scripture and cry out, “Oh God, let me be like Joseph! Give me the courage of Jael!” The thing with Joseph though is that his daddy adored him before his brothers sold him into slavery. He had someone edify him in his childhood that strengthened him for when times got tough. He had been given a solid foundation. Even so, his statement that what they intended for evil God meant for good was said after the good was evident. While in prison he requested remembrance in hope of being released.
After my dad lost all of his money in a business deal gone bad, that was no fault of his own, he got into selling pot since that seemed to be a hot market. Being the entrepreneur that he was, he went bigger and began manufacturing methamphetamines. To try to cut costs, he experimented by “cutting it” with various cheap products. One time he cut it with chicken scratch. He couldn’t put that junk on the streets though without seeing if it was “safe,” so he tested it on me! If it killed me then he knew he’d better not sell it. My life was worth less in my dad’s eyes than some druggie’s whose life he was already ruining by selling them that garbage. That was my foundation.
My husband tried to kill my 12 year old in a car on his 11th birthday. He beat him and mocked him regularly. He seemed to have a special hatred for him. He’d had that same special feeling for my second son, too. One morning E had been out feeding chickens and was just strolling back to the house when his dad called him into the utility room. He asked him, “E, do you know why I’m so hard on you?” He shook his head no. His dad answered his own question, “It’s because I don’t love you.” There’s my son’s foundation.
When I talk about poverty, I’m not talking about not having the newest, coolest things. We haven’t had TV for fifteen years, so we aren’t tempted by ads. My kids have always been home schooled, so they aren’t subjected to the peer pressure that demands the latest fads be followed upon threat of social ostracization. Home schoolers are a unique bunch here in the valley. You can’t tell the ones with money from the ones without by looking at them. They all wear hand me downs and often don’t have regular hair cuts, at least not in the new, cool styles.
When I talk about being poor I’m talking about a 3 year old crying himself to sleep at night because he hasn’t eaten for three days. I’m talking about borrowing a car, because you don’t have one, and sneaking into town to eat at the soup kitchen with the druggies and the homeless. I’m talking about a little girl wearing flannel shirts tied around her waist in an attempt to keep warm because she doesn’t own a single pair of pants, and it is winter. I’m talking about taking cold showers in the winter because you don’t have running hot water. I’m talking about living in a house with holes in the floor and where one room is falling down into another because the dry rot is destroying every inch of it. I’m talking about every place we’ve lived for the last 17 years has been infested with rats. I’m talking about walking in the rain with three small children for a mile to catch a city bus in order to deliver work. I’m talking about not celebrating birthdays and Christmas at all because if a dime came into the house and R didn’t get to it first for himself, it needed to go for food or bills.
Abuse and poverty make you feel marked, like part of a subspecies. Often, you’re point blank told that you are.
So, please excuse me if I occasionally sound like I’m having a pity party or if I publicly decry my children’s pain or if I worry out loud that they will make the same stupid mistakes I made and enter into abusive relationships because they think they don’t deserve normalcy and goodness (like my second son already has). But, please do not trivialize or invalidate our emotions. Not unless you’ve been there yourself.
While I’m at it, another comment awhile back really ticked me off, too. So, for clarification, when I met R I had a good job at the local hospital. My kids and I dressed to the hilt. We had recently returned from a trip to Hawaii. My two year old car was nearly paid off. I carried no consumer debt. I had a small investment. I owned several guns and an extensive silver collection. I had a houseful of brand new furniture. I had just been approved for a home loan. R had nothing. He had over $40,000 in personal debt. He didn’t even have a bed or a plate in his cupboard. He was “backwards” in his vehicle, as he had been with the previous two. He just kept rolling that debt over into the next new car he couldn’t afford. He was living in a cheap rental that he couldn’t keep unless I helped him.
I “brought far more to the table!” I was standing on my own two feet! I had a “sense of” myself “as a woman who had as much to give as to receive.” That did not place me in a role of master. I still ended up his slave. I will still argue that the reason I ended up his slave was because I had been brainwashed by my family of origin into believing that no matter what I had, did, or accomplished, I was trash and deserved to be abused. I think I was a “woman of quality,” and deserved a lot better than what I got. In fact, I’ll go ya one further…..I think I was a child of quality who deserved a lot more than the mess I was born into! And, I KNOW my children are children of great quality who deserve a lot more than the shitty hand they’ve been dealt.
I’m sorry if I’m coming across raw and offensive, but part of my search for my new, free life is a dogged determination to not allow anyone to invalidate my concerns and to quit stuffing my feelings for fear of hurting someone else’s. I have determined that I will be taken seriously.